At the October State Board of Education work session, during the discussion about the FY15 budget, Chief of Staff Dr. Craig Pouncey stated that funding provided by the Alabama state legislature, through the Education Trust Fund (ETF), for higher education students (2- and 4-year students) was nearly double that of K-12 students.
Wanting to verify what I had heard, it was time to hunt numbers. Once again, there is no report that contains this information.
Here’s where the numbers were and what the process was to find them: Pulled enrollment figures for K-12 from the ALSDE web site. Pulled enrollment figures for higher ed from the Alabama Commission for Higher Education (ACHE) web site. Pulled ETF appropriations from the Legislative Fiscal Office guides for legislators. Copied, pasted, and typed all of the numbers in to the spreadsheet.
Here is that process captured for your viewing pleasure, if you’d like to pursue the numbers yourself.
In a simplified effort to compare apples to apples, and because Alabama tax dollars are used to fund both K-12 and higher ed, higher ed enrollment was limited to in-state students.
The funding percentage split looks simple. (This split is available on the ETF spreadsheets posted on the LFO web site.)
Here are enrollment figures.
Here are actual per pupil funding figures. This was calculated by dividing the ETF appropriation from the LFO’s Legislator’s Guide to Taxes by the enrollment figures above.
Now let’s compare percentages: percentage of actual enrollment versus percentage of actual funding.
Finally, here’s what funding for K-12 would have been had funding been based on actual enrollment percentages.
While this was simply an exercise in number-crunching, it does raise questions about how the split is determined. Certainly there must be some justification for why actual enrollment isn’t used by the state legislature to appropriate funding.
Perhaps a dialogue can now begin.
SOURCES for these numbers:
Enrollment data, K-12: ALSDE web site, Public Data reports.
Enrollment data, Higher ed: ACHE web site, Statistical Abstracts, Tuition eligibility reports for all except the 2013-2014 school year. The “Preliminary Fall Enrollment” report was used for 2013-2014 and a 3-year average of in-state enrollment was used to calculate the percentage of in-state enrollment from total enrollment.
Education Trust Fund (ETF) Appropriations: Legislative Fiscal Office, “Legislator’s Guide to Taxes“.